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Old Mar 24th 2009, 12:42 am   #1
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Default How do people react under pressure.

Juggernaut raised an interesting point.
How do people react under pressure?
We were discussing Lt Col Pine Pienaars actions at Sharpeville 1960 when he instructed his green 19-25 year old Constables to load 5 rounds into their Automatic Sten guns when faced with 5000 chanting, ululating protestors, shaking and waving a fence that had the strength of a Schachat Cullum back yard fence.
His comment, repeated at the TRC 30 something years later, was that African mobs tended to be violent.

At the time, they fired 705 rounds and killed 69 people.
Women and children.
It is now a Public Holiday in SA as well as being commemerated internationally.
I challenge Juggernaut to a public debate, here in forum.

You are Pine Pienaar, on the day. how would you have defused the situation and prevented the loss of 69 lives and 180 wounded.
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 11:29 pm   #2
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Personally, I believe that the unfortunate thing was that he and his men were in the situation in the first place. Now given that my stance on war and the army in general is not a positive one, my answer will be unusual.

The thing is, he was in that situation, and he had to make a decision to protect him and his men as best he could. He (presumably) had the backing of his superiors when he made the decision or he would never have been in a position of power to begin with. I suppose he could have made the decision to run away, but obviously that would not ever be the case, and could possibly have led to injuries\death of his men anyway. If he truly felt under threat, he made the only decision he could, his men were armed, they did what they were trained for.

Now this is exactly why I do not believe in bringing in the army for civil unrest, because what happened was unforgivable, whilst I say he did the only thing he could do and was trained to do, to place a person in that situation to have to make that decision. I certainly do not agree with what happened or but given the situation it was the only possible outcome. Had they acted differently, not sent in the army against children, who know what would have been different. But they knew what they were doing and knew the outcome.

I question in my job (often), but am never faced with a potential life or death situation, if I was the decisions I make would undoubtedly be coloured by less logical factors. I do not blindly do what I am told, but once I am in the situation, I have to make the best decision for me and in this case, did he not do that. Just another puppet in the world.


Comment - wow, not sure any of that makes sense!

Last edited by Daydreamer123; Mar 24th 2009 at 11:29 pm. Reason: add comment
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 11:40 pm   #3
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

For me personally, if my life is being threatened I would do whatever it takes to remove that threat. It is not a matter of politics, race or religion - it becomes a matter of survival. Basic primitive instinct. I understand that fear after my time in Zambia.
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 11:53 pm   #4
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Thats kind of what I mean, once you are in the situation you do what you have to do. The bad thing is to be there in the first place.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 12:31 am   #5
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Daydreamer,thank you for that post.

The men on the ground that day were ordinary Policemen not soldiers, who had never been exposed to any form of training in Crowd Control or Civil unrest.
The Military were not called in.
At that time Mob violence was in its infancy.
The precursors were the 10,000 strong peaceful march by Black Women who marched on the Union Buildings in Pta to hand over a memorandum of protest.
The Women showed discipline even tho they were heckled by the SAP.

8 weeks prior a mob of around two thousand stormed the Cato Manor Police Station, dragged the 9 Policemen out and Castrated,eviserated and butchered them.

If you Google Sharpeville and read the TRC reports, there were 12 SAP members at the station, the PAC hi jacked a later protest by the ANC, they cut telephone lines, told people to meet at the Police station to hear a statement about the Passlaws for women, prevented and threatened people going to work and made them go to the Police station.
The Station Comander called for re-inforcements in light of what had happened at Cato Manor.
300 vs 5000.

What happened at Sharpeville was tragic, unnecessary but inevitable.
The PAC and ANC were in Competition and both were spoiling for a fight to prove that they were "Men of action" against the old guard who were preaching negotiation.

There was provocation, there was indiscipline, there was fear.
An inadvertant firefight can happen in the blink of an eye,
However, forty years on, the Govt that was are no longer in power,
The Police and Armed forces are no longer the same.

The Reasons that created the incident and the armed struggle no longer exist.

Other than that incidents of War such as the Jhbg Station Bomb, The St Andrews Church Massacre, the Magoos Pub Bomb and the Pretoria Street Bomb were regrettable incidents, They cannot be used to justify the shootings at Skierlik any more than excusing people who probably were'nt even born when they or Sharpeville happened committing heinous crimes
that are not political in nature.

As to withdrawing to avoid confrontation?
How can you and still enforce any law?
Can the SAPS withdraw today from a demonstration ?
The taxi strike today?
The recent confrontations regarding illegal squatters?

Last edited by Daxk; Mar 25th 2009 at 12:38 am. Reason: History
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 3:46 am   #6
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Oh. I didn't know they were policemen not soldiers. I am not sure that in SA History we would have been told, but in any case matric history was a few years back now. I think that does make a difference, I will have to think on it further, to decide what difference this makes. I think a great one, but will need to give it some thought.

I do disagree with withdrawing from conflict, I was just musing about what other options one would have in a similar situation. As policemen rather than soldiers, the option (in my opinion) is even more out of the question.

Just so I can think about it properly, are you saying that in the run-up to this that there had been both a peaceful and an extremely tragic demonstration? Obviously this is simplistic and I am sure that there were many other things happening, but your examples would have been very well covered by the news at the time.

Like I said, I need to think some more on this.

I don't often come on to SA forum so hope you don't mind me hijacking your thread. I do on occasion find it interesting to discuss these things with others, and this question caught my eye.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 3:54 am   #7
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/pe...t/wk38d2.shtml

An eyewitness account

"But it was not at all difficult for me to force my way to the fence and photograph the police inside, standing on their saracens and so on. So I stuck around for a little while, shot off a roll of film, and then thought I'd amble back to the car, we'd go and find a telephone and see if there was anything else happening anywhere else."

vs Daxk's account

"faced with 5000 chanting, ululating protestors, shaking and waving a fence"

Who was there?
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 8:48 am   #8
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

"I stuck around for a little while, shot off a roll of film, and then thought I'd amble back to the car, we'd go and find a telephone and see if there was anything else happening anywhere else."

Ian Berry's account was also raised at the TRC hearing where 4 of the wounded gave testimony one of whom was on the Fence.
It also makes no mention of the disputed PAC testimony that the SAP went into the crowd to attempt to arrest the 4 leaders compared to the the SAP and TRC testimony that the Leaders went to the fence,or of the chanting "arrest me" that every single witness in the court trials mentioned.

So no, Stanley, I was'nt there,and neither were you.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 10:16 am   #9
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Well he was about to go elsewhere, because nothing was happening. Surely if he had thought there might be some "action" he would have stayed.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 10:53 am   #10
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Hey Stanley, Reading Ian Berry's account again,3000-7000 (depending on who is doing the counting) African South Africans wander over to Sharpeville Police station, unlike the demonstration at Evaton earlier that day, when they get buzzed by two Sabre Jets they dont disperse but all stand around talking quietly in little groups far away from the Fence, They have gone to the Police station to be arrested en masse for not carrying their passbooks and in normal tones ask the police to arrest them.
So as they are many metres away from the fence the police open fire en masse and shoot them all in the back as they are walking away.

The only difference between the PAC and SAP submissions at the TRC were
A) That the SAP stated that the the 4 leaders asked to be arrested at the Fence whereas the PAC said the Police went into the crowd to arrest them.
B) That when the Police ordered the crowd back from the fence the PAC Marshalls said they moved the crowd back except for about 300 who remained at the fence.
all talking quietly about the next soccer match I assume.

Ian Berry and Humphrey Tyler of Drum Magazine recollected this years later:
"Many among the string of cars were novices to South Africa drafted in to cover the developing tension, and all of them turned back. Humphrey and I conferred, thought we couldn't be far from the centre of the township and decided to follow the police at a discreet distance. We came to a large square compound in the centre, a police station surrounded by wire fences, with fields on two sides and roads on the other two. The armed vehicles went into the compound and we drove on to the waste ground beside, unobserved. Humphrey stayed in the car, I got out to see what was happening. Not much, it seemed; my guess was that there were two to three thousand there, but they were spread over a large area and with people no more than three or four deep at the fence, it didn't seem an enormous crowd. The demonstrators I talked to showed no hostility.

The cops were some distance away inside the compound, and there wasn't much to photograph. I was concerned about being spotted and arrested for very little photographic return so I walked back across the waste ground to Humphrey and the car. I leaned in. 'Maybe it's worth telephoning and finding out if anything else is going on.' Suddenly there was shouting from the crowd.
I turned and started to walk back towards the compound. The cops were now standing on top of their armoured cars waving sten guns, and when I was fifty yards away from the compound they opened fire into the crowd. I can't say for sure that nobody lobbed a stone at the police, but I do not believe a threatening situation had built up in the time it took me to walk the two sides of the compound and back. The cops were in no danger. I can only assume that they came out with the intention of showing the crowd, and in the process black South Africa, a dreadful lesson."

Again, I remind you that I am NOT Condoning or excusing what happened,
I have seen a crowd turn from Laughing, singing ,cheering happy faces into a killing machine in the space of a few minutes.

He cannot be sure wether someone lobbed a stone at the police?
Then why mention it? Do you look at a crowd and say ok, they are not throwing stones.
He states, from a few hundred metres away that the cops were in no Danger, yet there are Police standing on top of Saracens waving their sten guns around and a lot of shouting?
Humphrey recalled "There were sudden shrill cries of 'Izwe Lethu' - women's voices it sounded - from near the police, and I could see a small section of the crowd swirl around the Saracens and hands went up in the Africanist salute. Then the shooting started. We heard the chatter of a machine gun, then another, then another."
But the Saracens were in the Compound?

Stanley, I dont know, it rates along with My lai and the Israeli one ,
As massacres go, I think the SADF ones against Civilians in Botswana, Maseru and Maputo and the car bomb in Bulawayo were far worse as they were conducted with cold blooded planning.
We (my family) met Ian personally when he came back from Paris for a visit, and he recounted a slightly different tale at Sunday Lunch when asked one day. He said you could feel that something was about to happen.
But that was years after.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 11:03 am   #11
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Irrespective, my question to Juggernaut on this post was given the circumstance and accepted there was a lot of tostesterone and adrenalin flowing on the day, what should the Col have done?
They had gone in to re-inforce 12 men, which in light of Cato Manor they had to do.
To abandon or withdraw would have given a propaganda victory and weakened the position of the Police .

I know with hindsights 20/20 vision what I would have done but also know how dificult it is to make the correct snap decision 110% of the time.

It still does'nt tell me what Sharpeville has to do with yoing men cruising in a VW Golf GTi who are possible hi-jackers?
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Old Apr 8th 2009, 8:27 pm   #12
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Some pressure!!

I can imagine the discussions among police officers following the Cato Manor incident and how it might go a long way to chase restraint and decorum from their actions at Sharpeville. My barrel melting might have caused me to cease fire; then some might say I lacked training and a sense of proportion or some such.

Heavy issue that. And how's life treating you Daxk?
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Old Apr 8th 2009, 8:31 pm   #13
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

PS: what does "Izwe Lethu" mean?
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Old Apr 8th 2009, 8:45 pm   #14
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Chango View Post
PS: what does "Izwe Lethu" mean?
It means "Our Land" El Chango,
welcome back, life is good, could be better,
There is bread in the bread tin, the occassional bottle of jam
but unlike Johnny Cash's song, another day older,but not deeper in debt.

I saw it twice,the chanting crowd, the stones, the provocation , was'nt pleasant.
But I was'nt surrounded in a Compound.

If it was today, I would commandeer a Full Coca Cola truck and park it a few blocks away, unattended.

Last edited by Daxk; Apr 8th 2009 at 9:47 pm.
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Old Apr 8th 2009, 10:26 pm   #15
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Default Re: How do people react under pressure.

Soda et circes!! Now that's stinkin' thinkin.

I'm also sorry to hear about JZ...
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